Ben­nett: Ne­tanyahu sets bad ex­am­ple

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By GIL HOFF­MAN

Bayit Ye­hudi leader Naf­tali Ben­nett sur­prised Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s as­so­ciates on Wed­nes­day, when he used a speech at the Fed­er­a­tion of Lo­cal Au­thor­i­ties con­ven­tion at the Tel Aviv Fair­grounds to crit­i­cize the prime min­is­ter’s be­hav­ior.

“The prime min­is­ter of Is­rael has to serve as an ex­am­ple to the en­tire Is­raeli pub­lic, and es­pe­cially to the Is­raeli youth,” Ben­nett said. “Like Ben-Gu­rion, who moved to the Negev and said, ‘Fol­low me.’ Like the life­styles led by [Me­nachem] Be­gin and [Yitzhak] Shamir. A prime min­is­ter is not meant to be per­fect or live an over­mod­est life­style, but he needs to be some­one peo­ple look at and say: ‘This is how one should act.’”

Ben­nett said that when he was in IDF of­fi­cers train­ing, there was a bib­li­cal verse on the wall: “Watch me, and do like­wise.”

“Tak­ing gifts in large sums over a long pe­riod of time is not liv­ing up to this stan­dard,” he said.

Ben­nett said the prime min­is­ter is do­ing a good job run­ning the coun­try, and he has no doubt that Ne­tanyahu would never harm Is­rael’s se­cu­rity or econ­omy to fur­ther his own in­ter­ests. He said Ne­tanyahu is in­no­cent un­til proven guilty, and that he trusts the at­tor­ney-gen­eral to do his job in de­cid­ing the prime min­is­ter’s fu­ture.

Ne­tanyahu re­ceived back­ing from his other coali­tion part­ners, fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion on Tues­day night of the po­lice rec­om­men­da­tions to in­dict him for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two cases.

“In­no­cent un­til proven guilty ap­plies to ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing the prime min­is­ter,” said Yis­rael Beytenu chair­man Avig­dor Liber­man. “The at­tor­ney-gen­eral de­cides [whether to in­dict], not the press. There is no doubt the prime min­is­ter can con­tinue to gov­ern. If not, it’s a po­lit­i­cal up­heaval. As long as he has not been con­victed, he can con­tinue lead­ing.”

Ku­lanu chair­man Moshe Kahlon re­leased a state­ment af­ter the pas­sage in a first read­ing of the 2019 state bud­get late Tues­day night, say­ing that only the at­tor­ney-gen­eral can de­cide on an in­dict­ment.

“Un­til then, I will con­tinue to lead and guide the econ­omy for the ben­e­fit of the cit­i­zens of Is­rael,” Kahlon said. “I call upon ev­ery­one – Right and Left – to re­frain from at­tack­ing the po­lice and the le­gal sys­tem, which should be al­lowed to work with­out pres­sure from the Right or Left.”

Shas chair­man Arye Deri said at the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties con­ven­tion that this is the best gov­ern­ment he has been a part of, and that Ne­tanyahu would win the next elec­tion.

Ne­tanyahu also re­ceived back­ing from United To­rah Ju­daism, whose leader, Deputy Health Min­is­ter Ya’acov Litz­man, at­tacked the cen­tral wit­ness against the prime min­is­ter, Yesh Atid chair­man Yair Lapid.

“He con­tin­ues try­ing to carry out a putsch against the prime min­is­ter, as he tried in 2014, when he was top­pled from his role as fi­nance min­is­ter, in which he failed,” Litz­man said. “I be­lieve in Ne­tanyahu’s in­no­cence and wish that, with God’s help, he will com­plete his term in of­fice for the good of the cit­i­zens of Is­rael.”

Ne­tanyahu also re­ceived mes­sages of sup­port from prob­a­ble fu­ture can­di­dates for the Likud lead­er­ship, in­clud­ing for­mer min­is­ter Gideon Sa’ar, Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Is­rael Katz and Knes­set Speaker Yuli Edel­stein.

The only crit­i­cism Ne­tanyahu re­ceived from within the Likud came from MK Oren Hazan, who called upon the prime min­is­ter to an­nounce that he would sus­pend him­self if in­dicted. Hazan said such a move could ease po­lit­i­cal pres­sure on him.

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